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12 Things You Don't Know About Me and My ADHD

What's it like having ADHD? I'm a master of illusion. I’ll convince you I've got everything under control, but beneath the surface I hide anxiety, self-doubt, shame, and feelings of inadequacy that even treatment can't erase.

22 Comments: 12 Things You Don't Know About Me and My ADHD

  1. This is such a useful article that i am going to keep it as a go-to.

    Also, for my ADHD coaching clients I think I will share it along with a simplified bullet on the brain-research & science underlying each point.

    I see that it was written a few years ago – before I knew much about ADHD or that I have it. I am grateful for the update because it brought it into my orbit. Thank you.

  2. I can relate 100% too. My daughter and my husband both have ADHD too but they are more on the emotional dysregulation side whilst I’m more on the 24/7 overthinking over-worrying side whose brain just won’t shut up. Some days we get in right, and I feel on top of the world and some days, even the smallest task feels impossible. But we keep going. I like that analogy about some brains being like a filing cabinet (you open one drawer at a time) and others like a big ball of wire where everything is connected to everything. I definitely have the wire ball and sometimes is a blessing (when I can pull an all-nighter and still produce a great work presentation in the morning) and something is a curse (when my brain stops functioning straight after that presentation). Sport is my salvation as it’s the only way to make my brain take a break.

  3. I feel like I could have written this article, except for the very last part. I hate my ADHD. I’d give anything to be “normal”. I seem to have all of the negatives and none of the positives. I’d give it up in a heartbeat if I could.

  4. I just was going through my old emails and noticed this in a newsletter from a year back and I decided to read it. I’m a teen with ADHD and I never realized how much it affects my life until reading this article. I nearly cried at a few of the points made because I’ve had so many people mad or frustrated with me over something I couldn’t figure out how to control. I’m so glad I saw this article!

  5. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!! I just let out a sigh of relief that has been holding me down for 2 years. Whoever the author is of this article: captured ME and what I am going through. I related to everything I read and they are things that I don’t talk about because I didn’t think they were important and I was diagnosed in 2nd grade (now 34) so I’ve been told most of my life to “Let it go”, “Get over it”, “You’re just lazy” and so on…. I have very loving parents and my mother has gone through this with me like a champ, but, my issues changed a few years ago and not one doctor out of many (10+) considered or even looked into the changes that may be occurring as what would occur in a woman with ADD. I appreciate this article. It gives me hope.

  6. I am surprised to see so many people in raptures about their ADHD-one describing it as a “Superpower” I wish I had that then instead of the ADD I am diagnosed with (along with Autism)
    The combination of the two conditions, I now honestly believe has made me into an almost entirely dysfunctional member of society-except that I live in a secluded part of town and have as little to do with that society as possible. It is an admission of defeat as I am well aware but things are not going to change for me to any significant extent as I approach my 61st birthday.
    The patterns of thought, perception and behaviour which have been with mew all of my life are as set as my hair colour I can never be sure that I accurately identify the root cause of whatever difficulty I am experiencing and therefore any remedial action I take is quite likely way off the mark and often backfires-that’s even if I manage to focus on my objective long enough to carry it out properly! ( I pray that I am not making excuses for myself here, I am my most harsh and unforgiving critic and try very hard not to evade responsibility for the way my life has panned out but fear that perhaps the need to give myself a break has won over somewhere at the back of my mind and that I am allowing myself to put a less honest interpretation. I seem to have a morbid fear of living in a fool’s paradise-which is what such a life would necessarily be self-delusion, abdication of responsibility and outright dishonesty limited only in scope by our imaginations and nerve. ( This could be a hangover from my jehovahs witless upbringing where we all grew up in fear of the prophesied “Armageddon”- one of several they have “prophesied” since their particular snake oil show started in the US during the late 19th century. They deny saying any such thing now of course but I digress….

    I’ve gone on a bit, there is a lot of really negative stuff happening around and to me at the moment and I am struggling, the reason I came to this site today was that I have been on Atomoxetine, Lisdexamphetamine and Ritalin and none of them has had any effect on my inability to think and act constructively out in the real world. It would be so much easier for me if all of my interactions with my fellow humans and the architecture of society itself could be conducted from this side of the keyboard!
    So-to get back to the supposed subject of this thing-I am disheartened by the ineffectiveness of the Med’s ( I only take the Lisdex. now as at least I have a bit more physical energy when it’s coursing through my veins. My consultant has told me that what I have had so far represents all that can be offered in term’s of Med’s so the heightened expectations I unwisely indulged in “…will that boy EVER learn…”for a more contented and functional existence simply serve as yet another reminder that I do not have the ability to assess usefully much of what comes my way.
    I’d like to find alternatives-if there are any. My ADD is ( I believe ) quite severe-I got nearly a perfect score in the assessment-I underlined my diagnosis immediately after the assessment when I walked a mile to the railway station only to remember when I was fumbling around for my non-existent rail ticket that I had come in the car!
    I’ll stop here, am in a bit of a bad spot and could do with any practical advice you may care to offer.



  7. Okay, how many of us hyper-focus on typing a response to an article or comment or Facebook, totally in the zone, wry critiques and witty comments fly through your fingertips, omg, it’s 9:15 and dinner hasn’t been started, you hit send and a message pops up telling you it necessary to sign in to comment….but, you swear you checked before writing the sequel to War and Peace. The comment screen has disappeared, with no other option you sign in, rush back to where all the magic happened…hoping….nothing. Control+v= the text from a different article that hadn’t absorbed 2 or is it 3 hours.

    Not. Again.

    Sadly, it just happened to me. Even after making a habit of cutting and pasting mt comments into my online journal. Sometimes I’ve even found myself in the middle of a long comment and I transfer it to Penzu (my journal) or open Word.

    Are there any amen’s from the choir?

    At least the author can rest assured her article inspired me.

    My spark of inspiration, in abbreviated form, is that I recognize several of the traits featured in the article are also traits of CPTSD, complex PTSD that comes from sustained incidents of trauma. Ongoing childhood abuse or an abusive relationship is the most common reason a person develops it but extreme situations like being a hostage or being in solitary confinement. As they learn more about trauma and the effects it has on the developing brain they are finding a high incidence of comorbidity between childhood abuse and ADHA and other learning disabilities. I was wondering how many folks who related to this post experienced some form of abuse or trauma as a child? The traits of not being able to let go and constantly being aware of the inner child who never received help, in this case, ADD or ADHD, constantly or frequently mourning the time lost believing you were flawed or lazy all the lost opportunities. In DBT speak that’s known as an intrusive thought.

    My mother was abusive before I entered school, so it’s sort of a chicken or the egg. Which came first? In my situation my inability to read just enraged mt mother more. But I’m wondering if the difficulties of learning disabilities and ADHD can be traumatic for a child. The degree of threat or danger a child or person experiences doesn’t promote the change in the brain structure associated with trauma. it has much more to do with the perception of a threat. Not everyone who experiences the change in neural pathways from a traumatic event develops PTSD. It’s believed the with the majority of folks the brain repairs/recovers when it doesn’t a PTSD response develops with the mind reliving the trauma or effects of the trauma from time to time. Ongoing trauma results in a complex/compounded PTSD response. Loving support during the period of a traumatic event can go a long way towards offsetting a PTSD or CPTSD response…much, much better to have support. Bottom line, your parents don’t have to be monsters to be traumatized by ADHD or other learning difficulties.

    I wish I could report that I can manage my ADHD symptoms without medication. However, medication has made a significant improvement in my life.

    I’m troubled by the situation where someone said the medication helps but their sense of humor has been lost. I hope it’s a temporary side effect. If not, I hope their doctor views it as an adverse reaction to that medication and will consider adjustments or changes. My sense of humor is my greatest coping skill. Life would suck if I could prompt a person to laugh.

  8. Right there with you alicemakesart. I also do not love my ADHD. My life, from childhood through adolescence was a disaster. I managed to get my life together enough to get a PhD at the age of 42, but then it went back downhill. I accomplished pretty much nothing while doing research, except that I knew practically every single person in the medical center where I did my research. I couldn’t sit still, so I went roaming about keeping everyone else from doing their work. I was finally diagnosed and treated about 10 years later, which helped somewhat. One thing I am not happy about treatment is that, pre-medicated, I was hysterically funny, I mean stand-up comic funny. I can safely say, I am no longer funny. Or at least as funny as I was. THAT I miss. I am also still pretty scatter-brained, forgetful, and dealing with delayed sleep phase disorder. So, no. I do not love my ADHD. (Although, if I didn’t have an ADHD brain, maybe I wouldn’t have been smart enough to get a PhD. So that part is good.)

  9. I also recognized my own experience many times in this article. However, I have to say I am not grateful for my ADD. Yes I’m a very creative person with many positive qualities, but I do not feel that in order to be this creative, I would have to lack executive functioning skills or be time blind, etc. on a daily basis I struggle with my brain. I tried different meds for 2 years, and while the stimulants helped a lot, they also exacerbated my anxiety which is significant to begin with. So I am just not feeling the gratitude right now. I stayed up til 2:45 am working on my lesson plans and drove while eating breakfast and putting on makeup bc I don’t know how to do it any differently. I just can’t put a positive spin on this thing that’s robbed me of years of self actualization and self esteem. Always feel like I’m not cut out for this world. Perimenopause has made my struggle much worse, so perhaps I’m in a negative space. Thanks for sharing the struggle. Artmama

  10. Normally when I read someone’s version of their ADHD, I can maybe relate to this bit, but not to that bit, so overall it doesn’t really feel like me. This beautifully written article is me exactly. How wonderful to feel that I am not alone and that there is someone else out there who understands not only what I have to put up with each day, but also that there is a big positive side too.

    I would only add that ADHD has given me a strong and quirky sense of humour. Over the years it has got me into a lot of trouble, but I wouldn’t change it for the earth.

  11. I have experienced most of this but being diagnosed at age 59, I had bought into what everyone was saying. My parents treated me the same as my 3 siblings but I did not respond so they thought I was being rebellious. I worked several jobs but would quit before they found out I was a fraud. At age 25, I got married and for over 30 years I was told it was something wrong with me and that he just put up with me because he felt sorry for me. It got so bad that I couldn’t even boil eggs. At 37, we had a son & my husband became ill. He gradually lost his ability to walk & to perform basic functions & at age 49, he was in a long term care facility & I had to start over financially with as a single mother with limited executive function & domestic skills. I was diagnosed after my employer insisted I be tested.for dementia because I would come in & forget what to do (I had been on the job for 10years). The clinician told me that my mental function was very much intact. She also gave me an ADHD diagnosis & suggested my memory lapses were due to stress & anxiety. She explained to me that my job was not difficult for me because there was something wrong with me but that I was not being challenged and I needed to discover my true potential because my test scores indicated I am capable of much more than I thought. I attended theInternational ADHD Conference in St Louis last year. Through that and through articles like this, I’ve learned that I don’t need to be “fixed”. I left my job this year and I am in the process of getting to know me. I am learning to accept me & love me & not to try to adapt to the neurotypical model that I spent my life trying to follow. THANK YOU!!!! It is because of people like you who are willing to share their experiences that I am on my way to a life free from the mental & emotional torment that has held me captive.

  12. I read this as if I had asked you to explain your ADHD and you said all of that at the speed the announcer at the end of a commercial explains all the stipulations of the CC milage program. It was like a stream of conciousness delaration in a moment of hyper-focus. I welled up slightly when you mentioned the animals and the empathy.
    Now that I am medicated I miss the hyper-workout sessions, but I don’t miss the hyperactive cramming 3hrs of stuff to do into the 1hr before everyone arrives and the self-disappointment driven anger it generated.
    Whiteboards have helped a lot to help get my organizational thoughts out before they get mired in the thought jumble.

  13. The struggle is real my sister!! Thank you for this article because, I also can relate 100% however… I recently discovered something profound about my ADHD that has changed my life forever…. I have always stood out for some reason and being the hyper happy never sit still seeker of knowledge and adventure 46yr old woman that I am…brings much judgment criticism and misunderstandings causing me to run and hide from all of it… i found myself (very complicated process) when I learned that my ADHD may actually mean..Attention Dialed to a Higher Dimension because I never thought of it as a disorder nor did I believe I was crazy…which I seriously hear all the time because I am literally on fire inside!! UNCONDITIONAL LOVE AND LIGHT is who I am and that is clearly not normal in today’s world BUT today I am proud to be me and I wear my unbridled passion and presence like a flag!! I am unique, just like everyone else lol but I wasn’t designed like this without profound purpose and reason…thank you for you. I believe in you and I love you so much because I can walk in your shoes as if they were mine!! Being still, meditating or even shutting my brain off long enough to sleep was impossible until I surrendered and forgave myself and then fell in love with my crazy self because WE ARE ADHD FOR A REASON AND ITS NOT SO BIG PHARMA CAN KEEP, US ON MEDS!!!! ♥️❤️🧡💛💚💙💜✌🏻🙏🏻

  14. One thing ADDitude mag doesn’t know about my ADHD
    And probably don’t care about
    Is that I cannot do those webpage slideshows
    Offer a list headline present a list. It’s not hard

  15. Thanks so much for your article. So well laid out and as if you interviewed me! Perfect timing because I posted for the first time in the discussion group last night about how frustrated I am with myself. I am really struggling to find the right career at an age when people are planning for retirement.

    1. I just read this article and the comments. I can only say exactly what Keepingup said, it’s like you interviewed me. If the part I’m supposed to live is the fact that I’m creative and can hyper focus on what I’m interested in, I would hope that isn’t something I would have to give up if Onjad a normal brain. I’m 67, diagnosed 2 years ago and still learning to live with it or compensate but just like Keepingup, when other people are retiring and looking to cut back, I’m working harder than ever to make a business with my creative skills which I should have done 40 years ago instead of the
      Miserable and unsuccessful numerous jobs I’ve been fired from or quit

  16. Thank you for sharing this with others. It was as if I was reading about me. I have said for years that I am grateful for my ADHD but sometimes I need a reminder of that gratitude and your article popped up in my inbox just when I needed it. We are perfectly imperfect #sheroes and ADHD is our superpower!

  17. So well-written and wonderful to see women speaking out about ADHD! I feel like I can relate 100%, being a Woman and a Mom, and I completely agree that ADHD IS like a diamond! I am starting to really learn (now that I’m 40) all of the ways that ADHD makes me special from anyone else I’ve ever met. It’s like we DO have super-human talents and can accomplish incredible things that others cannot BUT the things that hold us back are also just as huge (but on the opposite end of the spectrum). We need to work on the negatives daily and need a ton of tools just to do the basic, daily life things BUT I agree, I would never, ever give it up for all of the wonderful gifts it brings!

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